Looking back, some of my best hunting memories are the ones that didn’t quite turn out the way I expected them to. As serious as many folks take it, there’s always something that goes wrong. There’s nothing like having crazy stories to share around a campfire. It keeps us coming back and reminds us that nature always has the last laugh.

There was the time when we had the best conditions we could wish for and were sure to all come back with meat — you’ve never seen four guys so darn serious about a hunt. One of the guys brought some homemade stew that we gobbled down the night before opening day. Unfortunately, we all came down with the worst case of diarrhea ever recorded. What made matters worse is that we ran out of toilet paper halfway through the bout. Absolute misery.

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The first time I went duck and goose hunting, we had a nice flock of mallards work in. My partner gave me the first shot and right before I pulled the trigger, he threw my cammo hat out and blew it to smithereens. 10 Minutes later, I shot a goose that ended up landing right in our blind—it was far from dead and proceeded to beat the hell out of both of us. I jumped out and managed to lose my brand new shotgun in the muck. By the time I found it, I was cold, wet and disgusted with waterfowl hunting. Of course I couldn’t wait to get back out there again.

Sometimes the whole year goes bad. I missed a nice buck at 20 yards (I could have hit him with a pine cone). That was the only shot I got all rifle season. Earlier, during archery season I managed to break my bow string on a hunt. I forgot my spare at home. Turkey season was even worse because I got poison oak so bad that I had to go to the hospital. I went pheasant hunting and missed every shot I had (and I had a lot). Then, I was hunting ducks along a river and fell in and almost drowned. I had to strip down to my skivvies to retrieve my shotgun (it happens a lot for some reason) and had hypothermia by the time I made it back to the truck.

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Another year, I got lost for a whole day in the woods. By the time I located my dehydrated self and made it back to my camp, a bear had destroyed it and ate all my food (that was before Yeti coolers were invented). I had no choice but to pack it up and head home (I don’t hunt solo as much anymore). That was the same year that I rolled my quad into a creek and couldn’t get it out (another reason not to hunt alone). The night before, I was awake all night because I was certain that Sasquatch was circling my camp and breathing on my tent. (yet another reason).

Looking back, I don’t think I have enough ink to share all of the funny stories I have about the other guys I’ve hunted with. I’ve had guys forget their guns, get arrested in town the night before and even a buddy who managed to flip his airplane right on the runway (he got so drunk after that that we didn’t see him for two days).

Somehow, we all manage to make it back year after year and most of us have grown up a lot. One thing for sure is that you never know what to expect and that’s probably what keeps us going. If hunting were only about being successful, it wouldn’t be nearly as fun and we’d probably run out of things to talk about around the fire. I get a lot of serious looks from people who don’t know anything about hunting. I bet they’d lighten up if someone threw up their favorite hat and peppered it with buckshot . . . or, maybe not.